A group of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors clashed with policemen in Chennai on Friday, leading to injuries to four police personnel, PTI reported on Saturday. The incident led to sporadic protests across Tamil Nadu, including at the site of the violence, Washermanpet in Chennai.
However, following a discussion with Chennai Commissioner of Police AK Viswanathan, the protestors stopped their demonstration. Viswanathan held discussions with Muslim community leaders. “An amicable decision was arrived at in the meeting with Muslim organisations and they have announced that the agitation will be withdrawn,” a police officer said.
The police said that a woman joint commissioner, two women constables and a sub-inspector were injured in stone-pelting. There were also reports of some protestors suffering injuries. Joint Commissioner P Vijayakumari sustained injuries on her head, the police said. All those wounded have been taken to a nearby hospital.
The police had earlier on Friday removed some protestors forcibly from the area in Washermanpet. However, this led to a commotion involving the demonstrators and the police, after which more protestors joined the rally. They alleged that the police used batons against them. “Many were injured, some were brutally beaten up,” said an eyewitness according to The Indian Express.
The police took around 150 people in custody. Though they were released at night, around 1,000 women began a protest in the area subsequently.
A police officer said the force had so far stayed away from the demonstrations. “But this was an attempt to create a Shaheen Bagh model protest,” he said, referring to the sit-in at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh for the last two months. “We didn’t intervene until they declared that they will continue the protest. We tried to speak to them but it did not help. When arguments broke out, a few stones were thrown at officers. Then we had to forcefully evict them. There was no lathicharge, barring isolated cases.”
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin, in a tweet, condemned the police action. He claimed the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government in Tamil Nadu was running an anarchy that beats up people who fight for democracy.
Meanwhile, a protest leader claimed that a 70-year-old man collapsed and died in the stampede-like situation created following the police action. “A 70-year old man from Sajja Munusamy street got trapped in the crowd, collapsed and died,” they said. “We have come to know that he was in the hospital and had returned home only a day before.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11, grants citizenship to people from six communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, if they have entered India by December 31, 2014. However, the Act excludes Muslims from its scope. Protests against the Act have led to 28 deaths so far.